MN, CA--Adult parishioners also need protection from predatory clergy

For immediate release Sunday, January 28, 2018

Statement by Melanie Jula Sakoda of California, Volunteer Member of the Board of Directors for SNAP, the Survivors Network (

In 2016 a California priest, Father Jacob Andrew Bertrand, was charged with having sex with a Minnesota woman while celebrating a private Mass.  According to Minnesota law, it is unlawful for clergy to have sex with people they are not married to while providing religious advice, even if the sex is consensual. On January 22nd the priest pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

SNAP is grateful that this priest, currently on leave from the Diocese of San Diego, will be held accountable for his actions. For a clergyman to engage in sexual activity with someone, even an adult, who looks to him for spiritual guidance carries a great potential for harm. The authority of the clergyman is such that a victim of any age cannot truly act freely. 

Most states recognize the imbalance of power in therapeutic relationships and prohibit sexual activity between a psychiatrist or psychologist and a patient. A small number of states, like Minnesota, extend the same protections to those seeking help from members of the clergy. We hope that all states, including California, will someday do the same.

In the meantime, if you are an adult who was sexually abused by your minister, do not suffer alone and in silence! Make a report to the police to determine if any laws were violated, and reach out to support groups like ours for help and support.    

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 25,000 members. Our website is 


Melanie Jula Sakoda (, Joelle Casteix (, Barbara Dorris of St. Louis (

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  • Nate Long
    commented 2018-04-16 22:58:56 -0500
    When this story first announced at SJE Hillcrest long serving pastor Fr. Dillard requested a transfer and was granted, Bishop Robert McElroy disappeared for a few months, Rev. John Dolan quickly became administrator of SJE and St Vincents, then was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego. They all knew Jacob Bertrand was guilty. Auxiliary Bishop Dolan has boasts about being an advocate for Priests which is not what the Catholic Church really needs another enabler. It is just a matter of time when Auxiliary Bishop Dolan’s own discretion’s become public.

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